The chief medical officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee will unveil a drug and sports research plan Saturday that, if enacted, he said, would "clean up" drug use among potential Olympians in "eight to 12 years" and enable U.S. teams to "blow the East Germans and Russians away."
Dr. Irving Dardik, chairman of USOC's sports medicine council, will tell the USOC's House of Delegates that a national network of mobile laboratories, perhaps numbering 24 within four years, is the way to stop the use of stimulants, anabolic steroids, testosterone and blood doping among U.S. athletes.
"You can't just go to athletes and keep on saying to them, 'Don't do this, don't do that,' " he said today. "We have to also provide them with some positive reinforcement. The two of them together (testing and mobile labs) will work. Either of them alone won't."
He will recommend that the USOC, with funding from corporations, bring scientific technologies and ideas "down to the level of the coaches and the athletes, so they can use it."
A decision on the proposal -- and its funding -- will not be made at these meetings at the Broadmoor Hotel this weekend. According to usual USOC procedure, the matter will be decided by the new executive director, George D. Miller, or by the USOC's executive board, perhaps this spring.
"The concept is just beginning to be discussed," Miller said. "We will give very serious consideration to see how far we want to go."
The mobile labs would be equipped to give athletes information on biomechanics, nutrition, psychology and motivation, Dardik said. Information gathered on every athlete would be fed into a national data base here, he added, allowing athletes in all parts of the country to share training techniques.
The first lab would be in the 35-foot van that accompanied the Olympic torch relay last year. It has been funded by corporate donations, is scheduled to go to Philadelphia and will function regardless of whether the overall plan is adopted. Other sites for the labs already have been picked, Dardik said. But drug testing likely would not be done in the vans.
"It's a means to drug testing," he said, "but (testing) is not an easy thing to do. There could be spot testing, but (the purpose of the labs is) bringing science to athletes as a better choice than drugs."
A mobile lab costs about $750,000, the amount spent on pre-Olympic drug testing of all potential U.S. Olympians, he said. Eighty-six athletes, including two who already had made the 1984 Summer Olympic team, flunked the test given in the nine months before the L.A. Games. A total of 2,254 athletes was tested.
Dardik said the mobile labs could be used to test children to determine which sport they are best suited to, but acknowledged that the plan sounds hauntingly similar to the Eastern European regimentation that the USOC has long opposed.
"One can devise a test to see what sport a child is best suited for, without pressuring them (into that sport)," he said. "I think this is the direction eventually we'll have to go." But he quickly brushed aside comparisons with Eastern European techniques.
"We'll have one-up on (the Eastern Europeans)," Dardik said. "First of all, most of the ideas and technologies are created by us. Second of all, our program will be much more flexible to change. We have the ability to individualize. They are much more rigid.
"When people wake up and realize we're going nowhere (and take action as he suggests), there is no way we're not going to blow the East Germans and Russians away in future Olympic Games."
Since 1972, the Soviet Union has won more gold medals than any other nation in the Summer Olympics, except for 1984, of course. The Soviets and East Germans consistently win more gold medals than anyone else in the Winter Olympics. But his proposal, Dardik said, could change that.
"We'll be the best in the world," he said. "We'll have results you can't imagine. This is the start, to me, of the biggest thing that's ever happened in sports.
"I think we will be able to make tremendous inroads by '88, to show people that there is something more than needing to cheat. Give it another eight to 12 years to really clean up this act."
He will tell delegates that the vans would be only one phase of a three-part program against drugs and stimulants. He and the sports medicine council propose creating a national Olympic sports coaches' institute here and a youth drug prevention program in schools.
Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., would become the third U.S. Olympic Training Center Saturday if the USOC's House of Delegates approves a unanimous recommendation by its Games Site Selection and National Training Center Committee. Northern Michigan, which has facilities for 30 Olympic sports, would be the first USOC training center at a university.